Some of our readers may be wondering why our column is titled “Jobs and Economy” when we write almost exclusively on federal tax policy, trade policy and international economics.

When my editor similarly asked me if I could write more on local jobs and economic issues, I told her if I did it would be a very short article.  I said that until we fix our policies in Washington, local economies and the jobs they create are just screwed.  More tactfully, I could have said that until the national economy and job creation is fixed, local communities will not have the jobs they need to sustain a healthy economy.

If you travel America, as we do, when it is too hot to be in Mesquite, you may have noticed that small towns in America are slowly dying.  Larger ones are as well but it isn’t apparent yet.  We recently traveled through southern New Mexico and my wife agreed to stop for food in Tucumcari since it was a favorite little town of mine.  What I found was a town with mostly boarded up businesses and closed restaurants.  It was nothing like I remembered.

Public awareness of this problem has reached the stage where it is beginning to affect the Presidential races.  Democrat candidates are especially affected since labor was the first to be impact with lose job losses. Small manufacturing business owners, ranchers and farmers were next.  A few years back, the economic decay America is experiencing hit the retail sector and Americans began asking where the American made products are.  When they couldn’t find them, at some level they knew this wasn’t good.  Now that it is affecting the professionals and virtually every American, they are beginning to ask how this happened and candidates are running for cover.

There are some things that candidates just can’t do. We know some of the third rails they can’t touch and expect to win.  Next year, assuming the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is even half as bad as the leaks indicate, it could become the third rail of all third rails for Democrats and Republicans.

Joe Biden’s and Hillary Clinton’s main support have come from their base of union members; however, their ties to TTP calls into question this support.  In fact, the Teamsters, who supported Reagan, are meeting with Donald Trump to discuss an endorsement.

Both were caught between their past support of bad trade deals and the Democrat base who vehemently oppose them.  Bernie Sanders pressured Hillary to state her position on TPP knowing she had worked hard on the deal.  Hillary did the politically expedient thing and lied to labor by denouncing the trade pact she helped fashion.  She chose to throw Obama’s legacy deal under the bus after announcing her run for President.

Biden did the honorable thing – he remained true to his work on TPP and decided he couldn’t win without labor support.

TPP is still secret and until the agreement is public, the opposition will be unable to organize, which is the point of the secrecy.  But we know from leaks that this agreement is likely to draw at least the same opposition as Fast Track did. Some of the groups that lined up in favor of Fast Track and are certain to support TPP:

  • The Obama Administration.
  • Wall Street CEOs.
  • Giant multinational corporations.
  • Trans-National CEOs.
  • The Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable and other corporate lobbying organizations.
  • Libertarian “think tanks” like the Cato Institute.
  • Members of Congress that support the above groups.

The above groups have a small number of votes but huge amounts of money to buy influence.

A majority of Americans oppose these trade deals and see them as gutting American manufacturing and our middle class.  While the public has huge amounts of votes, our financial support is limited and fragmented.  Compare that to the huge, focused money of the “Washington Cartel” mentioned above.

So you can see this year’s presidential election could be a contest to see if American voters will overcome the financial power of the “Washington Cartel” who has owned our government for a long time.

Pundits can’t seem to figure out why Sanders, Trump and a couple of other outsiders have such huge support.  It is no secret to those of us who have been fighting for trade policy reform.  These two have spoken loudly and clearly on this subject.

Establishment Republican candidates (those supporting the Washington Cartel) avoid talking about trade policy for fear of losing the donations they need to stay in power.  Trump speaks out against TPP because he doesn’t need the Washington Cartel’s money and he knows it is not good for America.  Bernie Sanders speaks against it because he was never going to get any of the cartel’s money anyway.

No matter who the eventual nominees are, the choice for voters will be to put American interests first (Make America Great Again) or continue American’s economic and international decline. Trade policy and job creation will be at the center of the debate.  The cartel candidates (Bush, Clinton, etc.) can’t speak on it) but listen carefully and you will hear it.

Let’s hope voters get what they want and need this election cycle: economic sovereignty, a restored strong middle class, good paying jobs, the American Dream restored and a government of, by and for the people.  If they don’t, even more chaos, joblessness and debt lie ahead.

Frank Shannon served in the U.S. Army, was an engineering/operations manager for AT&T for 27 years, was the owner of a small manufacturing business for 23 years, served as Colorado Chair of the Coalition for a Prosperous America and moved to Mesquite in 2013.